Bagan

bagan-detailAs seasoned travellers, we have seen many wondrous sights. But even for us, every now and then, we come across a destination that makes us gasp out loud. You know, those rare moments when only the word ‘Wow’ seems adequate. Bagan is one of those places.

Old Bagan is a spectacular scene that defies description. Until it is experienced, one cannot quite appreciate the magnificence of Bagan.

The Bagan archaeological zone covers an area of 46 square kilometres and is literally covered with stupas and temples. In fact there are 2,200 in total.

Imagine a dusty brown land spectacularly interspersed with stupas, temples and monuments, some made of brick, others which have been rendered, a great number collapsing and a few magnificently restored. Add into this huge variations in size, height and architectural complexity and you’ll only just begin to get a feel for what awaits you.

Bagan Hotels

Ever-reliable, Yonder has selflessly set out to provide you with the pick of hotels in Old Bagan.  Owing to its enormous popularity accommodation in Bagan is wide ranging. Having spent a lot of time in khakis wandering amongst the deserted stupas it seems unquestionably obvious to us that our selected Bagan hotels must be on their doorstep to allow easy access. And we’ve been fortunate to stumble across two cracking hotels in Old Bagan which deliver fantastic rooms and superb locations.

The Bagan buzz

There is real buzz about Bagan travel.. It’s like being in a scene from Indiana Jones. That so many are abandoned and being slowly absorbed into the land is remarkable. Others that are still standing have labyrinthine interiors. Some have impossibly steep external staircases that rise high above the ground with narrow walkways giving a 360-degree perspective of the mesmerising landscape.

Each monument has its own story. Dhammayangyi is the largest temple and was completed in 1170 by King Narthu following a family feud in which he murdered his father and brother to secure his own position. The temple was an offering of repentance for his sins.

And there are many, many more fascinating stories waiting to be told. Beautiful ancient frescos still adorn the walls in many buildings, telling tales of life, death and the pathway to Nirvana. You’ll find statues of Buddha from the small to the large, with fascinating differences in detail as techniques and thinking changed over the ages.  

Encounter the extraordinary

Don’t underestimate how truly extraordinary Bagan is. With so many monuments for the inquisitive minded, it is sheer bliss and for the adventurous it is endlessly exciting. And amongst all of this, it is supremely calm and tranquil. There are remote monuments where silence pervades and all that can be heard is the occasionally gust of wind coming through the ancient ventilation holes. And of course your Yonder accommodation in Bagan will provide plenty of R&R.

Bagan has one other interesting dimension to it. It is home to the ancient technique which produces lacquerware. The Burmese, countrywide, are famously proud of their lacquerware industry and in Bagan you’ll find families who practice this time-consuming and intricate old craft by hand.

If you only do three things in Bagan…

  • At sunset, head to Shwesandaw pagoda, 328 feet high, with westerly facing views over the archaeological zone towards the Irrawaddy river in the distance.
  • If you have the luxury of time, one of the most rewarding ways of experiencing Bagan is by bike. The whole site is flat and with little traffic, it is a fabulous way of getting around.
  • The classic: hot air ballooning over Bagan. It counts amongst the most spectacular experiences we have had… ever!

Don’t underestimate how truly extraordinary Bagan is. With so many monuments for the inquisitive minded, it is sheer bliss and for the adventurous it is endlessly exciting. And amongst all of this, it is supremely calm and tranquil. There are remote monuments where silence pervades and all that can be heard is the occasionally gust of wind coming through the ancient ventilation holes.

Bagan has one other interesting dimension to it. It is home to the ancient technique which produces lacquerware. The Burmese, countrywide, are famously proud of their lacquerware industry and in Bagan you’ll find families who practice this time-consuming and intricate old craft by hand.

Out and about

Visiting Bagan is all about total immersion in the historical zone. Weeks could be spent there exploring the monuments and learning the fascinating history.

Hot air ballooning over the historical monument site is a must, as far as we are concerned. It is a fabulous experience, creating memories you will treasure for a lifetime. The balloon flights depart at sunrise so an early start is required. You’ll be collected from your hotel in 1940s buses and transported to the take-off sites.

New Bagan is nothing to write home about. It is functional and serves a purpose but you wouldn’t ordinarily come to visit. You’ll find precious ATMs (remember that they are still a scarce resource) a few half-decent restaurants and some tourist shops.

The lacquerware factories  (not in the mechanised sense) are an interesting experience as you’ll get a first-hand explanation of the processes that go into creating the items. You can also see the artists at work as they create all manner of objects, from cups to chests. You will also find wood carvers and screen printers. Both are extremely skilled arts and you’ll probably find making a purchase or two irresistible.

Eating and drinking

The entrepreneurs of New Bagan have cottoned on to the huge numbers of tourists passing their front doors and there is now a significant selection of restaurants and bars of varying quality. Most cuisines are available but in honesty if you are in Bagan for just a couple of nights, you’ll probably find the option of relaxing in the hotel much more appealing after spending an exhausting day impersonating Indiana Jones.

Thoughts on a postcard

Wandering around, well actually expertly guided by Mrs Mimi, the hundreds of stupas on the flat plains defy belief. How is this not one of the official wonders of the world!? It makes our list!

 
Bagan : The map

Pillow Talk

Our Escapologists only recommend hand-picked, delectable properties we have sampled and savoured ourselves. We judge all our hotels by their excellence, the sheer hedonistic pleasures they have to offer. And we reject a lot that don’t meet our exacting standards.

Some of our selections are classics, with reputations recognised the world over. Others are discoveries: boutique havens where hospitality, relaxation and fine cuisine have been distilled into a rare art form. You’ll find a few options for the budget conscious too, where Yonder’s principles are still to the fore. And for those who just need an airport stopover on their way to paradise, there’s one or two convenience choices, too.

We provide in-depth descriptions of every property, based upon our own experiences there, along with our unique Yonder rating and icons that will give you further insights into what’s on offer. We even tell you the types of clientele you might soon be rubbing shoulders with!

Now that’s choosing a hotel Yonder style!

Highlights

Journeys

Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations.

Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are. But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore how any one of these ideas might be adapted to create your own perfect journey Yonder.

Offers

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Whether you're looking for one perfect hotel stay or to create an exciting itinerary, all our properties are hand-picked and only selected if we absolutely love them!